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Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the U Receives $1M Endowment

July 31, 2008 – Continuing Education at The University of Utah is pleased to announce that its Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) recently received a $1 million endowment from the Bernard Osher Foundation.

The endowment will allow the Institute to operate in perpetuity and demonstrates the program’s success since its initiation at The University in 2004. The funding helps support the program’s offerings which include courses, lectures, and special events.

“This is a wonderful development, and we continue to be so thankful to the Osher Foundation for its support of our programs,” said Sandi Parkes, Assistant Vice President of Continuing Education at the U, which houses OLLI. “Thanks to this partnership between The U and the Bernard Osher Foundation, we have become a statewide leader in developing creative educational programming for older learners.”

With its first Osher Foundation grant of $100,000 in April 2004, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute began the development of community-based lifelong learning programs for people 50 and over across the Wasatch Front and Back. Continued funding lead to the rapid expansion of OLLI programs. From an initial offering of 12 courses to 50 students in on the U’s main campus in 2004, Osher has grown to over 500 members who enjoy today’s current inventory of 40 courses and numerous lectures and special events across two primary sites: Salt Lake City (U of U at Fort Douglas) and Bountiful (U of U campus).

 “This is a very exciting time for 50-plus learners in the Salt Lake and Bountiful areas,” said Cathy House, director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. “The Osher endowment will allow us to continue to lead the way in offering university-quality educational experiences for those who wish to learn for the sheer joy that comes from expanding your knowledge and for those who wish to discuss important ideas with each other and with their instructors.”

A small sampling of course subjects offered by U of U faculty, faculty emeritus, and community instructors includes Current Issues in American Public Affairs and Politics; The Way Things Work (by the Chair of the U’s physics department); languages including French, Italian, and Spanish; and a film course about the films of Charlie Chaplin. In addition to 6-week courses and lectures, the Institute’s varied learning formats include special events and film series.

“With changing expectations for retirement, retirees are gravitating to OLLI as they seek engaging experiences,” said House. “Many are seeking the stimulating and life-altering experiences they missed early in life because of work and family commitments. For example, former business executives, engineers and physicians come to our programs seeking courses in the liberal arts. Others are interested in ‘encore careers.’ Some end up serving as teachers or discussion leaders. Some are simply seeking new friends and experiences.”

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is a program designed for adults aged 50 and over who want to experience learning for its intellectual stimulation and for the fun of it. Courses are offered for no credit and there are no grades, no tests and no homework for the students.

The Institute offers a $30 annual membership, and members enjoy access to free special events and numerous pay-per-course classes.  Classes cover subject areas in arts and humanities, politics, natural sciences and social sciences, art, recreation, and more.

In addition to attending courses and special events, members are eligible to receive a student ID card, which grants access to many U of U student benefits, including use of the libraries, discounts on a variety of goods and services, and participation in cultural events and learning experiences. Registration for fall courses will begin in August. Open Houses will be held from 9 am to 12:30 pm in Salt Lake City on Thursday, August 14 and in Bountiful on Tuesday, August 19. For more information, registration dates, and course offerings, contact the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at 801-585-5442 or visit to download a program catalog.